The Acorn – 7

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Number 7


In this issue:

  1. Summer of rebellion ahead!
  2. English resistance to fracking
  3. Mayday in Milano
  4. Fighting the power
  5. Action Camp and Climate Games in Netherlands
  6. Frackanpada
  7. Degrowth Summer School
  8. Rhineland disobedience
  9. Earth First! Summer Gathering
  10. Books celebrate nature mystic
  11. Acorninfo

1. Summer of rebellion ahead!

The Peasant's Revolt of 1380

The revolt against the destructive infrastructure of industrial capitalism will be hotting up all over the place this summer, sending a message to the neoliberal elite that they will not necessarily have it all their own way for ever.

As the disastrous consequences of industrial society become all the more apparent, the complicity of governments increasingly blatant and the greenwashing attempts of global business more and more ridiculous, resistance is inevitably strengthening.

From radical anti-capitalists on the streets of Milan to anti-frackers in the Basque Country, from climate protesters in Germany to anti-roads activists in England, the struggle is one.

Our look (below) at just a few of the things that will be happening in the coming months shows a gathering momentum and a growing understanding that capitalism and industrialism are all the same thing.

The pernicious effects of pollution and environmental damage cannot be separated from the pernicious effects of the exploitation and degradation of human beings.

This so-called capitalist civilization is nothing but  a death-machine, converting the living flesh of our planet into the waste products of profit. For the sake of everyone’s future, we must fight together to consign it to the past.

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2. English resistance to fracking

balcombe protest

The resistance against fracking in southern England – which hit the headlines with the Balcombe protests in 2013 – is looking set to intensify in the next few months.

The global oil industry effectively declared its intent to sacrifice the countryside on the altar of profit with its boastful announcement, reported in The Guardian on April 9, that it had found 100bn barrels of oil underground at Horse Hill on the Sussex-Surrey border near Horley.

Steven Sanderson, chief executive of UK Oil and Gas Investments gloated: “Based on what we’ve found here, we’re looking at between 50 and 100bn barrels of oil in place in the ground. We believe we can recover between 5% and 15% of the oil in the ground, which by 2030 could mean that we produce 10% to 30% of the UK’s oil demand from within the Weald area”.

There was an immediate response from a broad range of environmentalists. Greenpeace UK chief scientist Dr Doug Parr said: “To gleefully rub your hands at a new fossil fuel discovery you need to turn the clock back to the 19th century and ignore everything we have learnt about climate change since. We already have more than enough coal, oil, and gas reserves to fry the planet. Dotting the English countryside with drilling rigs and pipelines to squeeze the last drop of oil out of Britain doesn’t make any sense.”

And Brenda Pollack, Friends of the Earth South East campaigner warned: “Any firm proposing to drill for oil in the region knows it will face huge opposition – as happened at Balcombe, Fernhurst and Wisborough Green.”

It may be significant that working with UK Oil and Gas Investments at Horse Hill is American firm Magellan Petroleum. The US giant is also partnering fracking firm Celtique at Billingshurst, a few miles away across the Sussex Weald, where the razor wire is up and ready for imminent drilling, as we reported in Acorn 2.

With Balcombe itself not yet safe from fracking, the southern English countryside is thus braced for a new assault. Despite the constant rumours about the poor financial state of the fracking industry, the British state continues to do all it can to try to impose fracking by force if necessary – see our report in Acorn 6.

The absurd talk from fracking industry propagandist Ken Cronin of UK Onshore Oil and Gas about “great care for the environment” and “no impact on local communities” is showed up for what it is by a new documentary film being screened in Sussex this month.

gasfield

Voices from The Gasfields, a bang up-to-date report, talks to residents in Australia affected by the massive amount of fracking that has been allowed by complicit authorities to ruin the landscape, pollute the water supplies and taint the air.

What was once unspoilt bush has been turned into an industrial wasteland, cleared of vegetation, crossed by pipelines, littered with abandoned oil wells. Vegetables gardens have withered away, wildlife is dying, people’s health is suffering and the fracking industry silences news of what is happening with “confidentiality” agreements when it has to pay out for the damage that it admits it has caused.

Of course, the film is not just about what has already happened in Australia. It is about what will happen elsewhere, including England, if the fracking business is allowed to get its way. As residents recall, when describing the nightmare devastation covering one area the size of England – “it all started with one well”.

The threat is clear and activists are ready to respond.

Voices from the Gasfields is being shown by Frack Free Sussex at All Saints Church Hall, The Drive, Hove BN3 3GE from 7pm on Sunday April 26 – free entry.

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3. Mayday in Milano

Noexpo

International anti-capitalist protest, Milan, Italy, Friday May 1

Six weeks after the massive protests against the opening of the European Central Bank HQ in Frankfurt (see Acorn 5), European anti-capitalists will be gathering again, this time in Italy, to take on another major showcase of European neoliberalism.

The mobilisation on Friday May 1 is being billed as “a joyful angry international demonstration through the centre of Milan” and starts at 2pm at Piazza XXIV Maggio on the south side of the city centre.

It is focused on the opening day of Expo 2015, an extravagant six-month “world fair” celebrating the corporate wealth built on the exploitation of workers and the destruction of the environment.

The expo site, to the north-west of the city centre, covers 272 acres and is expected to attract 29 million visitors from the opening day until the end of October.

expo - greenwashing

The self-congratulatory capitalism of Expo 2015 is bad enough in itself but, to add insult to injury, it is trying to pretend it is some kind of environmental showcase.

Its phoney theme of “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” is of course nothing but a deceitful piece of greenwash hiding the usual industrial-capitalist agenda, as a closer look at its site quickly reveals.

The section about its corporate “partners” boasts that “Expo Milano 2015 offers a unique business opportunity”.

expo - coca-cola

One of the “corporate pavilions” at the Expo will be from Coca-Cola, whose sickly spin, as unpalatable as its drinks, declares:Coca-Cola is working to embed sustainability-minded innovations at global and local level, into every aspect of its business, from sourcing ingredients to increasing beverage options to aspiring to be water neutral and recovering packaging”.

Coca-Cola claims that it enables “economic empowerment of women” and visitors to its propaganda-zone will learn all about its “efforts to enhance personal well-being, offering low or no-calories beverage options in every market” as well as about its proud record of “protecting the environment”.

Expo - new holland

Another pavilion comes from New Holland Agriculture (a brand of CNH Global NV) which “takes the opportunity to show how a world leader of agricultural mechanisation interprets the present and prepares for the future of farming”.

Also present is Vanke, “Chinese giant and leader in real estate” which has been at the forefront of the glorious “development” of China by the global industrial system. Its fine environmental record involves notching up than 60,000 homes a year. Its own website boasts: “In 2012, sales exceeded RMB 140 billion, once again the largest in the global real estate industry.”

Expo - vanke

The description of Vanke’s pavilion at Expo 2015 belongs firmly in the world of satire: “Visitors are immersed in a forest of poles, with screens which project scenes of lunches, joy, and sharing. The installation, based on the metaphor of roots, trunks and branches symbolizes Vanke’s commitment to the community, which lives among the mutual relationships of people, values and traditions.”

* Many of the same protesters will be joining a huge march against fascism through the northern Italian city two days earlier, on Wednesday April 29.

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4. Fighting the power

RTP

Reclaim the Power, Oxfordshire, England, May 29 – June 2

Reclaim the Power is holding a direct action camp near Didcot Power Station (Oxfordshire) as part of a global day of action, ahead of the UN climate talks (COP21) in December 2015.

Power stations like Didcot emit the same CO2 per day as the 20 least polluting countries combined. Although the coal-fired section (Didcot A) was shut down in 2013, and demolished last year because of EU laws limiting emissions, the gas-fired section (Didcot B) is still running today.

Says the RTP website: “While communities around the country have stood together against fracking, our government has been making plans to build a new round of gas-fired power stations, and wants to run them on fracked shale gas!

“And, despite the fact that we need to keep global gas reserves in the ground, if we want to avoid catastrophic climate change, corporate lobbyists are now pushing hard to scrap the EU legislation designed to reduce emissions across Europe! Come and tell them NO WAY and take direct action to shut down the industry. Didcot power station is a half-demolished monument to the unfinished job of kicking out dirty fossil fuels from the UK’s energy mix. Let’s finish the job!”

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5. Action Camp and Climate Games in Netherlands

aseed

Aseed Europe action camp, near Amsterdam, Netherlands, July 1-8

An action camp is being organised near Amsterdam by Aseed (Action for Solidarity Environment Equality and Diversity). Says its website: “Our current agriculture system is one of the world’s largest sources of greenhouse gases emission, especially meat production and deforestation. Industrial agriculture is addicted to fossil fuels and soil erosion and depletion increase the effects of climate change.

“In order to fulfill one of our most basic need in the long term, food production must become sustainable. The action camp will help the participants to focus on this goal and to make local, sustainable food production more widespread.”

The second edition of the Climate Games will be happening on July 4th in the same area, with the aim of “playing around some of the major polluters in Amsterdam’s port”.

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6. Frackanpada

International anti-fracking camp, Euskal Herria, July 13-19

Frack camp

The Frackanpada is an international protest camp against fracking that will take place this summer in Euskal Herria (Basque Country), called by the local movement against fracking (Fracking Ez) and with the support of a committed team of people based in different European countries.

Says the website: “There are various objectives. The first one is to bring together the people currently fighting and those interested to join the struggle against fracking in different places, to share experiences and exchange practices. It aims also to be a meeting place between struggles against fracking and those other related to the defence of the land and others such as against austerity and for a just and sustainable society…”

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7. Degrowth summer school

degrowth summer school
A lesson for today – all of this must end

Degrowth Summer School, Germany, August 9-14

The Degrowth Summer School will take place in the Rhineland lignite-mining area in the run-up to the Climate Camp (below). Says the website: “We want to reveal the necessity for a radical economic and societal change of our energy- and resource-intensive lifestyles and discuss concrete solutions and alternatives.”

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8. Rhineland disobedience

klimacamp

Climate Camp in Germany – mass civil disobedience, August 14-16

The group says: “In a big colourful action of civil disobedience we will obstruct the exploitation of lignite (soft coal) with many hundreds of people. Thus we will resist one of the crucial root causes of climate change. We will use a variety of actions, about which we will communicate in an open and reliable way. Let’s make the Rhineland the focal point of a strong and powerful anti-coal-movement!”

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9. Earth First! Summer Gathering

EF!SG15poster-small

Earth First! Summer gathering, Peak District, England, August 19-24

The gathering is billed as “five days of skills sharing for grassroots ecological action” revolving around the struggle against fracking, new roads and lots more, with a particular emphasis on community-based campaigns.

It is “a chance for people and groups from across the country and beyond to get together to network, share practical skills, ideas and inspirations to help our actions and campaigns be as strategic and effective as possible “.

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10. Books celebrate nature mystic

Salt cover completeJefferies cover complete

Two classic books celebrating a visionary English nature writer have been published in new editions by Winter Oak.

As a companion piece to Richard Jefferies’ 1883 book The Story of My Heart: My Autobiography, there is a fascinating analysis of Jefferies’ work by another neglected genius of the Victorian age.

Henry S. Salt’s 1894 study Richard Jefferies: His Life and His Ideals, sparked some controversy at the time as Salt – a campaigner for animal rights, vegetarianism and socialism – used it to claim Jefferies for one of his own, highlighting the social radicalism and nature-based spirituality that increasingly marked his subject’s later writing.

With wit and erudition he demolishes the conservative Victorian presentation of Jefferies as a mere chronicler of traditional country life and reveals him as a flawed yet inspirational figure whose best works were “unsurpassed as prose poems by anything which the English language contains”.

Salt writes of Jefferies: “He was a pagan, a pantheist, a worshipper of earth and sea, and of the great sun ‘burning in the heaven’; he yearned for a free, natural, fearless life of physical health and spiritual exaltation, and for a death in harmony with the life that preceded it.”.

This new 2015 edition includes a preface by Paul Cudenec, analysing the connections between the thought of Salt and Jefferies. Cudenec also contributes the preface to The Story of My Heart, Jefferies’ masterpiece of prose-poetry, in which he expresses his sublime yearning not just for connection with nature but for spiritual transcendence. Cudenec, from a contemporary environmentalist viewpoint, explores the significance of Jefferies’ work against a backdrop of disillusionment with industrial civilization and a cultural urge for the regeneration of human society.

For more information go to our books page

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11. Acorninfo

International protests are being staged against the ongoing repression of anarchists by the Spanish state (see Acorn 6). On March 30, another 38 people were arrested by police under the banner of “Operation Piñata“, a continuation of the notorious “Operation Pandora”. The raids were carried out amidst a flurry of propaganda making false claims of “terrorist” activities. One solidarity protest is being held in Brighton on Sunday April 12, 6pm at the Clocktower, North Street. “Muerte al estado y viva la anarquia!”

pinata
A banner drop in Brussels

* * *

The Landworkers’ Alliance (LWA) are celebrating Via Campesina’s International day of Peasant Struggle with a “Reclaim Our Food System” protest in Suffolk, England. They say: “This year we are targeting British Sugar PLC to expose the inequality and problems inherent in our industrial food system. Government support of big agri-businesses, like British Sugar PLC, threatens the health of our communities and the quality of our environment”. Meet outside the Bury St Edmunds Railway Station, 1pm on Wednesday April 29. Free coach from London.

British Sugar factory in Bury St Edmunds
Health threat – the British Sugar plc factory in Bury St Edmunds

* * *

Around 150 people tore down sections of the 8ft-tall spiked fence surrounding the Aylesbury occupation and other blocks of flats on the abandoned South London estate, reports rabble.org.uk. Dramatic video footage of the intensification of this local housing struggle can be seen online. Meanwhile, an anti-gentrification protest is being staged in Brixton, south London, on Saturday April 25 at 12 noon in Coldharbour Lane.

brixton-blockade

* * *

An excellent new video-poem with a deeply radical message has gone online. Inspired by the tradition of exorcism in Beat poetry, Kali Exorcism deploys text, sound and imagery to invoke the purgative energies of Kali so as to cleanse the world of the military-industrial complex and the state of perpetual warfare that the system requires. The poem also features in a new collection, ECOZOA, by Helen Moore published by Permanent Publications.

kali

* * *

What sort of politicians call for a “new model for development and growth” and can only contemplate a raise in the minimum wage that “can be designed in a manner that is consistent with improvements in competitiveness”? Yep, it’s those radical leftists from Syriza, now governing Greece – the quotes come directly from a recent document outlining their proposed reforms.

syriza

* * *

“The radical environmental movement is stuck in a rut, trapped within a space of increasing contradictions as leftist groups and large NGOs try to manage dissent”. That’s the provocative statement made in an article, which can be read online, from Black Seed, the US green anarchist publication. Issue 3 is soon due out in print.

blackseed2

* * *

Reclaim the Beats – join the Fuck Parade! This is the Mayday invitation from the London anarchists of Class War, who promise at 12V multi rig street party at 1 Commercial Street, London, from 6pm on Friday May 1.

fuckparade

* * *

The next national meeting of the Anarchist Action Network will be on Saturday April 18, from 12 noon to 5pm, at Freedom Bookshop, Angel Alley, 84b Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX. Email anarchistactionnetwork@riseup.net for more info.

aan logo

* * *

Acorn quote: “From earth and sea and sun, from night, the stars, from day, the trees, the hills, from my own soul – from these I think”. Richard Jefferies, The Story of My Heart

Richard Jefferies

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The Acorn – 6

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Number 6


In this issue:

  1. Highways to hell
  2. Degrowth – real anti-capitalism
  3. State’s war on anti-fracking movement
  4. Frankfurt – a firsthand account
  5. To Hell With Culture
  6. Acorninfo

1. Highways to hell

"A long term and sustainable benefit to the environment”? Roadbuilding in East Sussex.
“A long term and sustainable benefit to the environment”? Roadbuilding in Sussex, England.

The photo above shows Hollington Valley ‘Local Wildlife Site’ near Hastings in East Sussex on March 26 2015. It was posted online by the eco-action group Combe Haven Defenders to show the grim devastation caused by roadbuilding – in this case the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road.

Meanwhile, we are told that “England’s largest road investment programme for a generation” will be “a long term and sustainable benefit to the environment”.

How appropriate that the new official body Highways England is being launched on April 1! You’d have to be a complete April Fool not to see right through the glossy verbiage in its “Delivery Plan” from which these weasel words are taken.

All the smooth talk about making roads safer and reducing congestion is a barely disguised cover for its real mission of expanding capitalist infrastructure and thus increasing private profit at the expense of the public and the environment.

Hastings2
Supporting economic growth in the Sussex countryside

Readers of The Acorn will not be surprised to learn that number one on the Highways England list of “strategic outcomes” is “supporting economic growth”.

Its brochure adds: “We will do this by modernising the network to relieve congestion and reduce delays, helping businesses to grow, encouraging investment, creating jobs and opening up new areas for development.”

The last phrase here is important. “Opening up new areas for development” is in fact the opposite of relieving congestion and involves increasing the whole spiral of congestion, pollution, environmental destruction and climate change by converting yet more beautiful green fields and woodlands into ugly concrete and tarmac.

This is what new roads are about, everywhere in the world. For instance, the recent Russian proposals for a 12,000-mile east-west motorway (which would theoretically link the UK to the USA by road) not only go hand in hand with plans for new oil and gas pipelines, but have also been given the give-away name of the “Trans-Eurasian Belt Development”.

trans-siberian-road
Opening up the world for “development”

Highways England is proud of “working closely with Local Enterprise Partnerships and other local partners and stakeholders” to “identify current and future constraints to economic growth”. Like the countryside, perhaps?

In Acorn 4 we examined the Local Enterprise Partnership for parts of southern England, the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership, and how its connections to the arms industry and global construction businesses fitted in nicely with its commitment to promoting their interests under the mantle of “economic growth”.

We also exposed how it has admitted that “sustainable transport” schemes do not necessarily have to involve either transport or sustainability and that it was considering one such project, in Worthing, that is blatantly nothing more than a make-over for a town centre shopping centre.

Not only does Highways England play the same deceitful game by claiming its programme will result in “An Improved Environment – where our activities ensure a long term and sustainable benefit to the environment” but, to add insult to injury, the list of its “sustainable” projects actually includes none other than the entirely phoney scheme in Worthing!

motorway1
Highways to hell

See also:

Infrastructure is the enemy

Profit before the planet

Battle of Hastings

Road fight is back on

The road to corporate profits

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2. Degrowth – real anti-capitalism

The Only Sustainable Growth is Degrowth

“Economic growth” has replaced “progress” as the term with which industrial capitalism likes to justify its life-destroying rampage.

What the two have in common is that they are both meant to be undeniable facts of life. Within the capitalist/neoliberal mindset, it is a “given” that we need economic growth, as if it were in some way essential to our survival, like sunlight, fresh air or clean water.

This assumption is sadly sometimes also accepted by “radicals”, who fail to challenge this overall capitalist framework and focus instead on making the existing industrial system “fairer” or more “democratic”.

An alternative to this mental trap is degrowth (known elsewhere as décroissance, decrescita, decreixement and decrecimiento). Degrowth is a movement of ideas that “can trace its roots back to the anti-industrialist trends of the 19th century, developed in Great Britain by John Ruskin, William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement (1819–1900), in the United States by Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), and in Russia by Leo Tolstoy (1828–1911).” (Wikipedia)

Degrowth rejects all forms of productivism (the belief that economic productivity and growth is the purpose of human organisation). It rejects the capitalist idea of “sustainable development”, which it sees as an oxymoron, as any development based on growth in a finite and environmentally stressed world is inherently unsustainable.

It is “a downscaling of production and consumption that increases human well-being and enhances ecological conditions and equity on the planet. It calls for a future where societies live within their ecological means, with open, localised economies and resources more equally distributed through new forms of democratic institutions” and proposes “a shrinking of the economic system to leave more space for human cooperation and ecosystems”. (degrowth.org)

Of course, within the degrowth movement there are differences of strategy. Some, for example, might think that the capitalist system might somehow be persuaded to dissolve itself, or that it will allow its phoney “democratic” apparatus to divest it of its power. Others fear that a more confrontational attitude will be necessary to save the planet…

décroissance

See also:

The end of endless growth

French resistance to concrete future

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3. State’s war on anti-fracking movement

The British state is going all-out to protect the fracking industry
The British state is going all-out to protect the fracking industry

Sinister signs are emerging that the British state is preparing to use the full weight of its repressive power to try to crush the growing anti-fracking movement on behalf of the business interests which really control our “democratic” society.

The threat is a response to growing support for the anti-fracking struggle, and increasing scepticism about the fracking industry’s corporate spin and its PR strategy of insisting that new sites are purely conventional and that no fracking will in fact take place – see, for instance, this local website in West Sussex.

One indication of the state’s hardline approach comes from the Network for Police Monitoring, which has warned that “police see opposition to fracking as the most significant public order issue in the coming year and are actively preparing for it”.

Another indication comes from a letter issued by government ministers urging local authorities to take a strong line against “unauthorised traveller sites, protest camps and squatters” – including, of course, anti-fracking protest camps.

There is an aspect absurd to this statement in that the ministers claim camps might “harm the local environment” – unlike fracking or roadbuilding, presumably! But there is also a sinister side to their message to all council leaders, police and crime commissioners and police chief constables. Revealing the real attitude of those in power towards the rest of us, they instruct their underlings in the state system: “Public bodies should not gold plate human rights”.

Warning: the British state will not "gold plate" your human rights
Warning: the British state will not “gold plate” your human rights

Netpol explored police attitudes towards the anti-fracking movement following a Supreme Court ruling that the taking and retention of the personal data of 90-year-old Brighton anti-militarist campaigner John Catt was lawful.

It says this may have significant consequences for the surveillance of political activism, since the judgment grants extensive discretion to the police in the operation of police databases, and in the collection of intelligence related to ‘domestic extremism’ or other protest activity. “It is, in short, judicial approval for the mass surveillance of UK political activism”, they warn.

To illustrate the point, Netpol sets out a scenario where local people set up an anti-fracking campaign in a rural village close to a drilling of a proposed new exploratory shale gas well:

Nationally, the police have identified opposition to fracking as a significant public order issue and so believe there is a likelihood of local protests outside the drilling site, though they do not know what form this might take.

In order to assess the risk that any protest might include some degree of obstruction of the site entrance or the public highway, senior officers decide to gather information through overt surveillance on all members of the campaign to establish its size, who is most active and most influential and what other groups, particularly undefined environmental ‘extremists’, local people identified as organisers are in contact with.

This involves officers attending a village hall meeting and noting what has been said, filming everyone as they leave, intimidating home visits to identified ‘leaders’ and logging the movements of activists’ vehicles as they go to and from the village. None of the people under surveillance has a criminal record – few have ever been involved in a campaign before – but this self-evident invasion of their privacy is justified as necessary “for legitimate policing purposes”.

As the surveillance expands from weeks to months, it is not long before the details of almost everyone over 16 in this close-knit local community has been added to the National Special Branch Intelligence System.

Conclude Netpol: “Alarmingly, our work alongside activists in the growing opposition to extreme energy extraction suggests this scenario may soon become entirely realistic.”

Meanwhile, anti-frackers in Bristol have launched a Solidarity Appeal to help their ongoing battle. They say: “Environmental defenders have recently incurred exceptional outgoings of more than a thousand pounds in the continued battle to stop big business destroying our planet. They need your help urgently”. Contributions can be made here.

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4. Frankfurt – a firsthand account

Torched
March 18 in Frankfurt

Following the reports in Acorn 5 of the dramatic anti-capitalist protests in Frankfurt, focused on the official opening of the European Central Bank’s new HQ, this useful firsthand account has been published on rabble.org.uk

From 5am on the morning of the 18th an estimated 6,000 people began marching on the ECB from different corners of Frankfurt. Activists had been organised into ‘fingers’, each with their own strategy to disrupt and blockade the ECB. 10,000 police, armed with pepper spray, tear gas and water cannons were concentrated around the bank.

As the fingers moved toward the ECB, banks, government buildings and shops were targeted. Paint bombs were thrown at the UBS building, windows were smashed at the local council building, Hilton Hotel and Sparkasse Bank. Slogans painted on the walls gave a clear message. ‘Smash Capitalism’ was written on buildings across Frankfurt. One person had written ‘The empire is dying’, and an advertising billboard for Intimissi underwear that objectified women was defaced with the words ‘Smash Patriarchy’. Police who came close while all this was going on were warned off by a hail of rocks.

As people got closer to the ECB, anything that could be moved was dragged into the road to blockade the area around the bank and prevent police movements. A building site was dismantled to create a strong barricade close to Ost Bahnhof metro station. Police who drove close to the crowd constructing the barricade soon thought better of it, and drove away at breakneck speed. A nearby road was blocked by an abandoned police car, which was set alight. The barricade was further strengthened by the torching of a luxury car.

Police responded by firing tear gas, charging at the crowd, punching and kicking demonstrators and kettling. Almost 400 people were held in a cordon and at least 17 people were arrested. One of the arrestees, Federico Annibale, a student from SOAS in London, has been in custody in Frankfurt since Wednesday. According to the NoTroika website he has not seen the evidence against him and has not yet been charged.

Despite police repression, people managed to set fire to dozens of police vehicles and set up burning barricades around the city centre.

burning barricade

By 11am riots had begun to abate, protesters danced on the streets at a sound truck at the end of a bridge close to the ECB, while police water cannons kept watch. The day ended with a colourful 25,000 strong anti-capitalist march through Frankfurt.

So, what is the significance of the Frankfurt riots? First of all, they are an effective example of propaganda by deed. The images broadcast around the world from the streets of Frankfurt may have brought a little hope to those suffering under the Europe’s austerity regime, to those ready to join the struggle for a different society. They send a message that people are, once again, ready to resist. They may also be the first step in a new wave of international resistance to capitalism.

On March 18th, thousands of German activists were joined by people from Italy, Greece, France, Ireland, the UK, the US, the Netherlands, Belgium, Turkey and Spain. Many of the international activists had come in large contingents, the size of which has not been seen since the heyday of international summit mobilisations. Those of us present on the day got a taste of what it is like to take part in a truly transnational demonstration, to make an impact despite the thousands of cops pitted against us, and gained inspiration and new allies.

Of course, the ECB protests had many of the problems that the international summit mobilisation movement also had. The Blockupy coalition was intentionally wide to maximise numbers, ranging from anti-authoritarians and anarchists to trade union organisations and the Die Linke party. The publicly announced planning meeting on the 17th, attended by over a thousand people, was reminiscent of attending the speeches at a traditional left wing rally. The Blockupy coalition felt the need to distance itself from the riots in the media. Ulrich Wilken, a coalition representative said “This is not what we in Blockupy had planned.” but that he “understood” people’s anger at the “policies of impoverishment”. A Blockupy statement later said that “individual actions” were “not responsible” – meaning that some demonstrators’ actions were irresponsible.

DieLinke
Party agenda – Die Linke

These so-called ‘representatives’ of the protests have their own interests at heart: the strengthening of political parties like Die Linke and other European left wing parties, in the wake of the success of Syriza in Greece. Those of us who want to see a non-hierarchical movement aimed at dismantling the capitalist system from below and creating alternatives which challenge all forms of oppression must be on our guard against our efforts being channelled into building popularity for these parties, which will not change the system and will only lead to further disappointments and failures for those who want to see real change.

Transnational resistance against capitalism needs to transcend the old cycle of counter-summits to create real solidarity between those resisting, to mobilise internationally to support local struggles, and to consider how a temporary show of resistance, as happened in Frankfurt, can make room for more permanent spaces from which to explore how to create new worlds free from capitalism and oppression.

If we are going to effectively resist capitalism, a system which defies national borders to dominate the world we live in today, we need strong local struggles, to challenge the system wherever we are and prevent further destruction of the earth and our communities by the endless drive for profit. But it is also necessary for us to see how these struggles are connected together, to get to know our allies living across borders and to recognise the power we have when we join each other. Let’s hope that the events in Frankfurt last week will spark a new wave of transnational resistance to capitalism which will strengthen our movements, reclaim space to create alternatives and inspire others to join the struggle.

"Conquer capitalism!"
“Conquer capitalism!”

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5. To Hell With Culture

readpostersmall

The first Brighton screening of Huw Wahl’s film To Hell With Culture is being organised by Sussex Anarchists at the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton, at 7.30pm on Tuesday April 7. The film will be introduced on the evening by Dr Michael Paraskos, author of Herbert Read: Art and Idealism, among other works.

To Hell With Culture is an inspiring portrait of the life and work of Herbert Read (1893-1968), one of the most influential art and literary theorists of modernism active in the first half of the twentieth century. He was also an anarchist, being directly involved in the movement both before and after the Second World War and penning some important contributions to anarchist philosophy.

Despite his passion for modernist culture, Read remained deeply attached to a rural English way of life threatened by the machineries of capitalism, declaring: “Deep down my attitude is a protest against the fate that has made me a poet in an industrial age”.

The free screening follows on from the Sussex Anarchists group meeting at 6pm. All welcome.

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6. Acorninfo

Never Mind The Ballots…It’s The 7th Bristol Anarchist Bookfair! The event is being held from 11am to 6pm on Saturday April 25, 2015, at  Trinity Centre Trinity Rd, Bristol BS2 0NW, with a Radical History Zone nearby at Hydra Bookshop. The bookfair comes just 13 days before the British general election and local elections and organisers promise: “There won’t be a single lying, corrupt, austerity-enforcing, media-spinning politician in sight”. More info at bristolanarchistbookfair.org

Bristol bookfair poster

* * *

Two chapters of the new Invisible Committee book To Our Friends have now been posted online in English, ahead of its actual publication. The latest released text is called Let’s Disappear, and stresses that revolutionaries should not fall into the trap of seeing the ‘population’ as something other than themselves, as something that has to be influenced or harnessed in some way, as the state itself does. They remind us: “We are the ‘hearts and minds’ that must be conquered. We are the ‘crowds’ that are to be controlled”. The previously-released chapter is called Fuck Off Google.

toourfriendscover

* * *

A general strike is being staged in France on Thursday April 9 against the new Macron law, with workers and students mobilising to block buildings and infrastructure and take to the streets in large numbers. The law drawn up by economics minister Emmanuel Macron is all about encouraging our old friend “economic growth”. The 106 articles in the Macron Law provide further proof, as if any were needed, of the ruling French Socialist Party’s neoliberal agenda. Working hours are to be increased, with Sunday working normalised in the way it already is in the UK, and bosses’ powers strengthened. As ever, though, the French people are ready to put up a fight!

9avril

* * *

A draconian clamp-down on dissent and resistance is being launched by the Spanish state. On March 26 three controversial laws were approved in the Spanish Congress. The Penal Code, the new Anti-Terror Law and the Law on Citizen Safety, scheduled to come into effect on July 1, 2015, pose a severe threat to freedom of expression in the streets and on the internet. For instance, there will be fines of up to 30,000€ for “crimes” such as “photographing or recording police”, “peaceful disobedience to authority”, “occupying banks as means of protest”, or “not formalizing a protest”. Online activism is also targeted, with jail sentences of between three months and a year threatened for publishing “slogans or messages” or “inciting any offence of disorderly conduct” including “disturbing the public peace”. The state’s definition of “terrorism” is widened to include hacking with the goal of disturbing the public peace. More information at revolution-news.com. The new laws follow Operation Pandora in December, in which anarchists were attacked by the Spanish state under the guise of an “anti-terrorist” operation.

Solidarity with Spanish anarchists
Solidarity with anarchists targeted by the Spanish state

* * *

Following a fire which affected the premises of anarchist publisher AK Press in Oakland, USA, it is making an appeal for funds to put right the damage.The target is a hefty $150,000, but $40,000 had already been raised in the first four days.

Fire damage at AK Press in the USA
Fire damage at AK Press in the USA

* * *

Finally, a couple of online video recommendations from The Acorn. This documentary looks at direct action protests against the DSEI arms fair in London – both the event and the opposition will be happening again in September this year. And this film shows a feisty student protest against neoliberalism in Quebec.

* * *

Acorn quote: “Dracula, king of the vampires, is the perfect fin-de-siècle cultural horror: something living hundreds of years yet dead, something dead but undead, draining the vitality of the living, like European Civilization itself”. Richard Noll, The Jung Cult: The Origins of a Charismatic Movement

dracula

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The Acorn – 5

acornmastheadnew

Number 5


In this issue:

  1. Frankfurt and the flames of resistance
  2. Why attack the ECB?
  3. “Insurrection has been waiting to break out”
  4. The road to corporate profits
  5. The Brighton Connection – how Green is your valley?
  6. Acorninfo

1. Frankfurt and the flames of resistance

A burning police car in Frankfurt on #18M
A burning police car in Frankfurt on #18M

A powerful message rose from the streets of Frankfurt on Wednesday March 18 2015 – a new phase of international anti-capitalist resistance has begun.

As European Central Bank president Mario Draghi officially opened its billion-pound HQ as if nothing was happening, the city outside was like a war zone, full of razor wire and military-style police.

The successful #Blockupy gatecrashing of the Euro-bankers’ launch party started as early as 6am. Roads and bridges were blocked with burning barricades. Cop cars were torched, police covered in paint, banks and other symbols of the capitalist system attacked.

burning barricade
Burning barricades on the streets of Frankfurt
battle
Resistance on the streets
flare
Confronting the cops
"Conquer capitalism!"
“Conquer capitalism!”
Whose streets?
Whose streets?
ecb-blockupy2
Pink as a pig
Torched
Torched

German police – 10,000 of them brought in from all over the country – were even more brutal than ever. Protesters were beaten with batons, kicked in the head, attacked with pepper spray, dragged along the ground by their hair, as well as having tear gas and water cannon fired at them as the state’s thugs tried and failed to break the spirit of defiance on the streets.

Cops
On the march to protect the bankers
Robocops on the attack
Robocops on the attack
The graffiti says it all
The graffiti says it all

The day ended with a massive demonstration through the city centre, of some 20,000 people. Observers described it as much larger than expected and the biggest of its kind since the anti-G8 protests in Heiligendamm in 2007.

demo
The massive #Blockupy demonstration against capitalism
bank paint
A bank is targeted

As we explained in Acorn 2 and Acorn 4, activists from all over Europe headed to the continent’s financial capital to show their anger at the ECB, the Troika and the whole neoliberal dictatorship being imposed everywhere – the Italian contingent was particularly visible, but it went deeper than that.

And it is here perhaps that the true significance of #18M can be found. Around 15 years ago, battles like those in Seattle, Genoa and the City of London marked the moment that a global anti-capitalist movement forced, by its very existence, a general recognition that we live in a capitalist society – before that, the word was regarded as some kind of propagandistic communist term to describe what used to be called “the free world”.

The phase of massive anti-summit protests came to an end, although opposition of course continued.

The authorities were no doubt hoping that the international movement would itself fade away and that radicals would retreat into the detail of their own local struggles and forget that these form part of a bigger picture.

But that hasn’t happened. The awareness of the existence of a neoliberal capitalist system has gone hand in hand with the awareness of a network of international resistance – informal but inter-connected in a myriad of ways.

Local struggles against specific examples of capitalist oppression will feed in and strengthen that resistance. And the joyful empowerment of being part of that wider resistance will in turn fortify and sustain the local struggle.

The signs are all there that we are entering a spiralling resurgence of the international anti-capitalist movement, of which Frankfurt is just the beginning.

Germany Protests ECB
A festival of revolt
Frankfurt - a new phase in the struggle against capitalsim
Frankfurt – a new phase in the struggle against capitalism

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2. Why attack the ECB?

“Through the Troika, the ECB has ordered living standards to be lowered and social services axed, sending millions into unemployment. The ECB has pushed the bailouts onto governments whilst at the same time it has done everything in its power to provide liquidity to insolvent banks, leaving private finance off the hook, rewarding and aiding it wherever possible“.

Christina Laskaridisby in “False Dilemmas: A Critical Guide to the Euro Zone Crisis”, published by Corporate Watch

Euro sign

“The ECB plays an important role in the infamous Troika, responsible for harsh cuts, growing unemployment, and even the breakdown of healthcare in Greece and other EU countries. Along with the EU Commission and the EU Council, the ECB has promoted austerity, privatization, and precarity. They have even had no hesitation in blackmailing elected governments in order to enforce their attacks on the social rights of the people“.

Blockupy call-out

Euro sign

“The nation as such is a dead letter. The State can do nothing more than set the table for the dreary meal dished out by the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Commission: the Holy Trinity known as the Troika. The Troika, not content simply to oversee or even directly administer the budgetary functioning of entire States, seeks also to dictate the very conditions of our lives, reducing the latter to a simple question of ‘human resource management’. The impression of being dominated, overwhelmed, and finally altogether crushed by a self-appointed clique of ‘Core European’ bureaucrats has become one of the more salient features of the present.”

Destroika

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3. “Insurrection has been waiting to break out”

rioting-in-England
England, 2011

A full-scale global uprising against neoliberal capitalism has been brewing for some time now and waiting for the opportunity to break out.

That is the view of French writing collective The Invisible Committee in their latest book, A nos amis.

They write of an increasing feeling of something happening, the commonly-shared intuition that “an insurrection can break out at any moment, for whatever reason, in any country and lead anywhere”.

This, they insist, is not just wishful thinking on the part of the world’s dissidents – there really is a pattern emerging: “What has been happening in the world since 2008 isn’t an incoherent series of random eruptions in sealed national spaces, but one big historical sequence”.

So who are the Invisible Committee? In 2007 a group of radicals in France, calling themselves le comité invisible, brought out a book called L’Insurrection qui vient or, in English, The Coming Insurrection.

A lot has happened since then. For a start, the waves created by their writing led to a group of people, who became known as the Tarnac Nine/Ten, being arrested on dubious charges of sabotaging high-speed rail lines, with the French state claiming they were also the authors of the pamphlet.

The wider picture of what has become of the struggle against neoliberalism, and where it might go from here, is what is addressed in their follow-up book, reviewed in English here.

Representatives of The Invisible Committee will visiting the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton, at 6pm on Saturday March 21, for what is believed to be the only public talk on the new book they are giving in either France or the UK.

COWLEY

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4. The road to corporate profits

arundel bypass
Arundel bypass

“There is an investment case for a dual carriageway bypass at Arundel to the south of the existing A27”.

That is the conclusion of official “feasibility” studies into the disastrous proposal to drive a bypass of the current bypass across wetlands and woods near the West Sussex town (see Acorn 1)

While the reports were commissioned by the Department for Transport, the actual analysis was carried out by Parsons Brinckerhoff, a subsidiary of massive multinational corporation WSP Global.

If this outfit sounds familiar, that’s because it featured heavily in Acorn 4. In that special investigation, we exposed the way that “sustainable transport” funding was at risk of being diverted into an irrelevant town centre refurbishment scheme.

We pointed out that Martin Heffer, the Coast to Capital board member focusing on infrastructure issues, is in fact a Parsons Brinckerhoff/WSP Global employee on secondment to the Department of Transport.

Martin Heffer: developing capitalist infrastructure from Iraq to the M25
Martin Heffer: developing capitalist infrastructure from Iraq to the M25

There is clearly a link between the promotion of fake “sustainable transport” proposals and the promotion of roadbuilding. Without any real alternative proposals to beat congestion, there is nothing to get in the way of the “need” to build new roads, the main profit-generating arteries of capitalist infrastructure.

Once again, the mantra of “economic growth” lies behind the proposal for an Arundel bypass-bypass, creating a spiral of justification that we would call “never-ending” if it wasn’t bound to end one day in environmental disaster or, more cheerfully, the end of this wretched industrial-capitalist system.

So the fact that this part of Sussex is “planning for significant growth” and that “over 60,000 new homes and substantial employment development are expected within the coastal study area” is used as an excuse for roadbuilding.

And when the new roads attract more lorries and more commuter sprawl and traffic, the resulting congestion will be used as the excuse for yet another round of roadbuilding! The Arundel bypass-bypass-bypass perhaps.

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5. The Brighton Connection – how Green is your valley?

The Green Party's Jason Kitcat, leader of Brighton Council
The Green Party’s Jason Kitcat, leader of Brighton Council

An interesting story was run by Brighton’s Fig website in response to our Coast to Capital investigation in Acorn 4.

This highlights Coast to Capital’s involvement in Brighton Council’s £8m Valley Gardens scheme.

Says Fig: “Despite the project being touted by the Greens who run the council as being about ‘sustainable development’, the council itself admits the controversial scheme wouldn’t just benefit the environment – or even transport: it would also deliver ‘better business links, improved retail frontages, new offices – and encourage economic growth’.”

A council document reveals the usual vision of the world seen through business-tinted glasses: “The City Region has much of the talent and many of the enterprise and liveability factors to become a Super City Region. But, to achieve full potential these must be converted into real ambition and to marry creativity to a strong technology base.”

Displaying the usual capitalist disdain for education as anything but a means of making money, it describes the two universities, Sussex and Brighton are “central to achieving ambition” and as “two of the most significant ‘anchor’ businesses.”

Perhaps this is all to be expected in our capitalist world, but is not a little surprising that this approach is being followed by a Green Party administration?

Not really – after all, the Coast to Capital board includes none other than the Greens’ Brighton council leader Jason Kitcat!

kitcatcoastsite
Jason Kitcat on the Coast to Capital website

Kitcat’s “Linked.in” entry proudly declares that he has been “one of the public sector board members for the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership” since as long ago as May 2012.

So presumably he sees no contradiction at all in Coast to Capital’s relentless focus on “economic growth” above all else (see Acorn 4) and the comment on his own party’s official website that “we currently have an economic system that prioritises growth in company profits over the wellbeing of society”. That’s politics for you!

A bizarre footnote to this story. While revisiting Coast to Capital’s website a week or so ago, after publishing our investigation in Acorn 4, we noticed that Mr Kitcat’s details had disappeared from its pages. What had happened? Had he resigned? Our researcher’s enquiries led to reassurances from both Mr Kitcat and Coast to Capital that he was still a board member. Coast to Capital’s reply, in particular, was admirably prompt, explaining that “there was an error on the ‘Coast to Capital Board’ web page that has now been amended”. Indeed it had! Mr Kitcat was back on the Coast to Capital site as if nothing had happened!

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6. Acorninfo

Two protests against police spies targeting political dissidents are being staged in Cardiff and London next week. A number of activists are taking legal action against South Wales Police and the Metropolitan Police in an attempt to hold the system to account for the activities of Mark “Marco” Jacobs, who claimed to be just another anarchist in the south Wales activist scene, but was actually an undercover cop. The campaigners say that since they first filed an application in court, police lawyers have attempted to obstruct justice by giving a “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” defence. On Wednesday March 25 they will be in the Royal Courts of Justice in London attempting to strike out this non-defence. The first protest will be outside Cardiff Central Police Station in King Edward VIII Avenue, Cardiff on Tuesday March 24, 6pm to 8pm. Then there will be a solidarity picket outside the Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand, London, WC2 (Holborn or Temple tube) on Wednesday March 25 from 9am to 10am. More info on the South Wales Anarchists website.

swa

* * *

Rebellion has been spreading across the UK’s “gulag archipelago” of migration prisons. Rabble website reported on March 10 that hunger strikes, yard occupations and other protests were taking place in at least six UK detention centres. It said “The protests started last week in Yarl’s Wood (Bedfordshire) and in the Harmondsworth and Colnbrook migration prison complex near Heathrow airport. Today we heard that 50 people were on hunger strike in Tinsley House, with protests also at nearby Brook House, both inside the perimeter of Gatwick Airport. Hunger strike has also started at Moreton Hall (Nottinghamshire). There may well be others.” A convoy of deportation coaches was targeted at Gatwick Airport in West Sussex, said Rabble: “People managed to block the coach convoy and hold one up for a couple of hours, with one person superglued to the windscreen as the coach was stuck in the Gatwick periphery road.” More info at http://rabble.org.uk

Rebellion in Harmondsworth
Rebellion in Harmondsworth

* * *

The Anarchist Action Network will be holding its next network meeting on Saturday March 28 in Newham, London. Open to all except cops and journalists, it will take place between 12 noon and 5pm at The Harold Road Centre, 170 Harold Rd, Upton Park, London E13 0SE. The AAN consists of individuals and autonomous local groups, based in towns and cities across the UK and further afield. In the past it has come together to organise temporary Anarchist spaces in London and Newport and resistance against the G8 and NATO summits. More info at https://www.anarchistaction.net/

aan logo

* * *

Fracking firm Celtique has pulled out of two schemes in West Sussex in an encouraging victory for the anti-fracking resistance. It now says it will not be appealing against refusal of permission for Fernhurst and Wisborough Green (we reported the threat to rural Boxal Bridge in Acorn 3)  However, anti-frackers are still braced for a fight in Billingshurst, where Celtique’s claims of conventional-only plans are belied by the massive razor-wired security fences around their site (see Acorn 2).

fracking victories

* * *

Campaigners are condemning the proposed sell-off of chunks of the Lake District National Park in the north of England. Says Kate Ashbrook of the Open Spaces Society: “A new owner may not have national park purposes at heart but may be driven by the potential commercial benefits to be wrung from the site. We have great sympathy with the park authorities who are suffering slashed budgets and we back the Campaign for National Parks’ battle against the cuts. But it is no solution to flog off land which should be held for the nation”. The sites for sale are Stickle Tarn, Great Langdale (£20,000-£30,000); Baneriggs Wood at White Moss, Grasmere (£110,000-£130,000); Lady Wood at White Moss (£20,000 – £25,000); amenity land with river frontage at Portinscale, Keswick (£8,000-£10,000); shoreline at Blea Brows, Coniston Water (£70,000 – £90,000); Yewbarrow Woods, Longsleddale (£110,000-£130,000); Blue Hill and Red Bank Wood, Ambleside (£100,000-£120,000). Even nature is just another commodity to be bought and sold in our soulless capitalist civilization…

Stickle Tarn - being sold off to private money
Stickle Tarn in the Lake District

* * *

Acorn quote: “The state lies in all languages of good and evil. Whatever it says, it lies – and whatever it has, it has stolen”. Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

friedrich-nietzsche

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The Acorn – 4

acornmastheadnew

Number 4


In this issue:

  1. Profit before the planet: a special investigation into sham “sustainability”
  2. Europeans unite against ruling elite
  3. Learning from the Syriza sell-out
  4. Fracking – resistance and repression
  5. Motor threat to Welsh valleys
  6. Acorninfo

1. Profit before the planet: a special investigation into sham “sustainability”

coastcapitalism

“Sustainable transport” funding in southern England is just another way of boosting business profits, an investigation by The Acorn can reveal.

The funding agency in question has stated that schemes do not have to be sustainable or even have to have anything to do with transport at all – they just have to contribute to “economic growth”.

Meanwhile, unchecked traffic congestion is used to justify yet more environment-wrecking road schemes, as we revealed in Acorn 1.

And the whole public-private apparatus behind the scandal is riddled with connections not just to global big business but even to the military and the arms trade.

Our investigation involves West Sussex County Council (WSCC) and Coast to Capital, the regional Local Enterprise Partnership covering a swathe of southern England stretching from Croydon and Gatwick Airport to Brighton and Chichester.

Print

WSCC is trying to get hold of some of the £31 million allocated by the Government to Coast to Capital, supposedly to fund sustainable transport schemes, and is promoting something it calls the “Worthing Sustainable Transport Package”. Phase one of this is costed at £1.2 million and WSCC is bidding for £800,000 of that from Coast to Capital.

But when local cycling and environmental campaigners took a closer look at the details of the scheme, they were astonished to discover that it was all about repaving the main Worthing shopping street, Montague Street, and knocking down a rotunda, known to residents as the bandstand.

One campaigner told The Acorn: “There is no way anyone can say that re-paving Montague Street in Worthing has anything to do with benefiting sustainable transport, when, in fact, the town is desperate for some cycleways and other sustainable transport to ease chronic motor traffic congestion.

“Councils are spending ‘sustainable transport’ money on ‘sustainable transport’ schemes that are nothing of the sort.”

Shoppers in Montague Street, Worthing
Shoppers in Montague Street, Worthing

It is indeed immediately striking how little the “Worthing Sustainable Transport Package” has to do with sustainable transport – it is blatantly just a make-over for the commercial part of Worthing town centre.

The “why it should be funded” section of the application admits that the main thrust of its pitch is that “it will attract more people to shop in the area”. This will result in “long term economic growth reversing the current decline in footfall and turnover”. It will “create jobs”, help Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership meet its economic growth targets and potentially lead to £17.7 million a year more income for businesses.

Other “benefits” of the scheme are that the works will put £2.3 million into the pockets of the construction industry and eventually push up shop rental values and thus business rates.

There is also the bonus of extra “generation of government revenues” from “taxes on business profits, employees’ wages, and profits from rental income”.

And the cherry on the cake is that “residential properties are likely to increase in value by 5.2% within the town centre”. What marvellous news for Sussex people finding it difficult to afford somewhere to live!

Amidst all of this there is no indication of how the scheme might be expected to reduce traffic or make transport “sustainable” in any way, reducing demand for new roads like the threatened Arundel bypass-bypass or the mooted Worthing A27 “improvements”.

As the local campaigner told us: “The bid document itself does not mention any beneficial impacts on journey times or reliability, and it is difficult to envisage any.” Referring to the suggested increase of 1.6 million new visits to Montague Street each year, he asked: “How are those additional people expected to travel to and from Montague Street without causing a significant increase in local traffic?”

Coast to Capitalism

But hold on a minute – a bid for sustainable transport funding that makes no mention of sustainable transport? Is that even allowed?

The local campaigners stumbled across what looks like a blatant give-away when they were examining the Coast to Capital website for details of its criteria.

Astonishingly, the section about schemes that could be funded under transport “sustainability” or “resilience” admitted: “They may also include improvements which do not affect transport, but which will help to protect or stimulate economic growth”.

No sooner had this remarkable sentence been drawn to the attention of Coast to Capital, than it suddenly disappeared from the website! Luckily, campaigners were shrewd enough to have taken a screenshot, part of which is reproduced here.

Missing sentence

In fact, it should come as no surprise that “economic growth” should prove to be the sole preoccupation of Coast to Capital.

The masthead of its website proclaims that its focus is “to create economic growth in an innovative, enterprising and international business environment” and the term repeats ad nauseam in the overview of its aims.

coast to capital mast

“Our small yet dynamic team is focused on delivering growth”… “Our focus is on those areas where we can stimulate growth” … “delivering activities to drive growth” … “our role is to help re-balance the economy and to promote private sector growth” … “ensuring that the infrastructure and conditions for economic growth are in place”.

It adds: “Coast to Capital is not a delivery organisation and we do not take on the direct delivery of business support services. However, in order to create favourable conditions for growth, we do identify priorities and strategies for improving local transport, housing and skills development.”

This line pretty much confirms the gist of the deleted give-away sentence – all Coast to Capital’s strategies on transport, housing or whatever are, by its own admission, only carried out “in order to create favourable conditions for growth”.

If we go back through its self-description and replace the word “growth” with a term that describes what it really means – “profit” or “greed” come to mind – then we begin to understand the agenda that lies behind Coast to Capital.

Decision, decisions… interests and allegiances

If all this isn’t disturbing enough, let’s now take a look at how the decision will be made about the allocation of so-called “sustainable transport” funding…

Coast to Capital reveals that the “the business cases for each scheme are currently being assessed by independent transport advisors. Parsons Brinckerhoff are assessing the sustainability schemes.”

Parsons Brinckerhoff is a massive multinational engineering corporation, employing some 14,000 staff – in 2013, the company was named the tenth largest US-based engineering/design firm by Engineering News Record. It used to be owned by Balfour Beatty, but on October 31, 2014, it became a wholly owned independent subsidiary of WSP Global, an even more massive multinational corporation based in Canada.

wsp parsons

WSP Global Inc is currently involved in projects like the rebuilding of the World Trade Center in New York, USA, and Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport in Germany. Past triumphs from these experts in sustainability include The Shard in London, Beetham Tower in Manchester, City Central Development in Adelaide, Australia, Mellon Bank Center in Philadelphia, Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand, and Trump Tower in New York.

shard
The Shard in London: a WSP Global Inc project

 

Terminal_de_l'aéroport_international_de_Bangkok
Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok: another WSP Global Inc project

The deliberation of these “independent” transport advisors will no doubt be watched with dispassionate interest by Martin Heffer, the Coast to Capital board member focusing on infrastructure issues.

Well, not that dispassionate, as his register of interests reveals that Parsons Brinckerhoff (now aka WSP Global Inc) is in fact his employer!

Heffer, a “specialist in the planning and delivery of major transport schemes”, is apparently “currently on secondment to the Department for Transport”.

His commitment to sustainable transport involves working on the High Speed 2 rail project, Heathrow Terminal 5 and the widening of the M25 motorway ahead of the Olympics.

And Heffer’s fine ethical record does not stop there! He is also a reserve army officer, having been a Royal Engineers volunteer officer for some 30 years. “He is a specialist in the area of Civil Military co-operation having worked on joint Foreign Office and UK military infrastructure initiatives in Iraq,” boasts Coast to Capital.

Martin Heffer: developing capitalist infrastructure from Iraq to the M25
Martin Heffer: developing capitalist infrastructure from Iraq to the M25

What a splendid example of the seamless interweaving of state, capitalism and war-mongering neo-colonialism!

If this is all beginning to sound like a bit of a stitch-up, don’t worry – when the decisions about funding are made, probably on March 25 2015, they will not be made by Heffer or the board, but by what Coast to Capital calls a “voluntary partnership known as
the Local Transport Body”.

Closer examination reveals that this wholesome-sounding group is chaired by none other than Pieter Montyn. Montyn shares Heffer’s commitment to ethics and sustainability, with a lifetime spent in the higher echelons of the global arms trade – “37 years in the UK aircraft and defence equipment industry (British Aerospace/BAE Systems and GEC), in which he held senior export management positions at home and overseas”.

Montyncoll
Pieter Montyn: from BAE to West Sussex County Council

He will presumably have to step aside from his role chairing the Local Transport Body when the funding bid for Worthing is actually discussed, as he also happens to be cabinet member for highways and transport at West Sussex County Council, the very organisation promoting the application!

As the leading force behind the “A27 Action” campaign calling for the bypass of the Arundel bypass and other road-building schemes (see Acorn 1), WSCC appears to be concerned by the increase in motor traffic – its pro-road-building website declares: “The A27 is a congested route which is inhibiting business investment and growth.”

Funny, then, that that very same West Sussex County Council is promoting the “Worthing Sustainable Transport Package”, rather than a scheme that would help address the congestion issue by providing cycle lanes, cheaper public transport etc?

Not really! After all, think of all the plus-boxes that are ticked by the prospect of new motorways being ploughed through the woods and wetlands of Sussex! More and more traffic, more concrete, more contracts for the construction industry – the warped greed-god of economic growth, worshipped by Coast to Capital, West Sussex County Council and all their business partners, will demand the unchecked expansion of its capitalist infrastructure right up until the very day it has triumphantly choked the last drop of life out of this planet.

See also:

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2. Europeans unite against ruling elite

venezia
Anti-capitalist protesters in Italy get in the mood for March 18 in Frankfurt

Anti-capitalist protesters from across Europe are gearing up for big protests against the European Central Bank (ECB).

As we reported in Acorn 2, they are converging on Frankfurt in Germany on Wednesday March 18 to gatecrash the opening party of the new HQ.

“See you on the barricades!” was the message from the activists pictured above in Venice, Italy, who were part of a day of anti-bank actions on March 2.

And a similar message of defiance comes across on this video call-out from destroika. Says the group’s website: “It is necessary to transpose our experiences of local struggle to a higher offensive level, beyond the national frame of reference inherent to the movement, in order to sandwich the State on the European level as well. The opening of the new headquarters of the European Central Bank will be the occasion for us to reconverge, to unite our forces against a common enemy.”

The Blockupy call-out says: “As the crisis has unfolded the EU has became more and more of an authoritarian regime with an obvious lack of democratic participation. The murderous border controls and the progressing militarization of foreign policy add to this process. They cannot, and even do not want to, represent us anymore. The ruling elites have nothing left of value to offer for us.

“But new forces are emerging from all corners of life and it will be our task to build solidarity and real democracy from below. They want capitalism without democracy, but we want democracy without capitalism!”

German authorities are showing signs of panic over the impact of the protests, with one regional minister, Peter Beuth, describing them as a huge challenge” for the security forces. Everyone had the right to “peacefully” protest against globalization, butrioters” were not welcome in Frankfurt on March 18 the minister told the Hesse Landtag (regional Parliament).

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3. Learning from the Syriza sell-out

syriza
Syriza – selling out to neoliberal capitalism

As soon as the leftists of Syriza came into power in Greece, anarchist voices were warning that things were not necessarily as they seemed.

Crimethinc, for example, published a thoughtful in-depth analysis called Syriza Can’t Save Greece: Why There’s No Electoral Exit from the Crisis.

Here it bracketed Syriza with other “radical” electoral forces such as Podemos in Spain, Die Linke in Germany, Parti de Gauche in France, Radnička fronta in Croatia, Združena levica in Slovenia, and Bloco de Esquerda in Portugal.

Warned the article: “At this historical juncture, all of them serve the same basic function. Faced with so much unrest, the ruling order suddenly has a use for new radical political parties that promise to embody calls for ‘real democracy’ within the existing system.

“Whatever the intentions of the participants, their structural role is to rebuild trust in electoral democracy, neutralize uncontrollable extra-parliamentary movements, and reestablish capitalism and the state as the only imaginable social order.

“When they enter the halls of power, they commit themselves to perpetuating the authoritarian institutions and unequal distribution of wealth that triggered the movements from which they appeared in the first place.”

DieLinke
Electoral movements like Die Linke are useful for the capitalist system, warns Crimethinc

It was not long before Crimethinc’s warning was proved correct. In an article posted on the Aljazeera website on March 3, C J Polychroniou, a research associate and policy fellow at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, wrote: “It has taken the Syriza government less than a month to surrender to neoliberal Europe and Greece’s international lenders.”

Noting that in recent talks “the Syriza-led government accepted an extension of the bailout programme and capitulated in turn to Germany’s demands for austerity and neoliberal reforms”, he added: “One would be hard pressed to find in the annals of political history another case where a governing party has broken its word so quickly on its pre-election promises and accepted an ultimate defeat in the face of systemic opposition.“

Polychroniou fears that “Syriza’s capitulation will create a mood of defeatism among progressive forces across Europe”.

But, on the other hand, it might serve to underline the anarchist warning that attempts to reform the capitalist system will only end up reinforcing it – the whole thing has to go.

"Still our last, best hope" says Crimethinc.
“Still our last, best hope” says Crimethinc.

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4. Fracking – resistance and repression

Algerian anti-fracking2
Resisting the fracking industry in In-Salah, Algeria

Resistance to fracking continues to grow all over the world. On Sunday March 1 anti-fracking protesters in In-Salah, Algeria, torched the local daïra (government office) and the home of its boss, as well as part of a police dormitory and a police lorry. Forty cops were apparently injured.

Protests have been growing since the end of December when the Algerian firm Sonatrach, in partnership with Halliburton, announced its first test for shale gas in this part of the Sahara had been a success. In February it insisted that fracking would go ahead despite evident hostility from a local population daring to stand in the way of economic growth. Algeria has the world’s fourth biggest reserves of shale gas, after the USA, China and Argentina.

Anti-fracking protesters in In-Salah, Algeria
Anti-fracking protesters in In-Salah, Algeria

In Britain, the authorities continue to explore ways of stemming the anti-fracking revolt. One is to have subtly redefined fracking in the notorious new Infrastructure Act.

Explains DeSmogBlog: “By defining fracking as one specific phase in the entire process, it means that any environmental impacts that do occur must be proven to be associated with that specific phase in order to claim that the industry definition of fracking has caused that impact.”

So when the industry claims that “no proven instances of water contamination have occurred due to hydraulic fracturing” it is using the its own definition of hydraulic fracturing, now shared by the state, “which excludes incidents from drilling damage, failed well casings, spills, erosion and sediment, or tanker accidents”.

The other approach, of course, is to use the legal system to attack opponents of the fracking industry.

On Thursday March 5 Dr Rowland Dye was convicted of “aggravated trespass” in the office of the Chamber of Commerce in Blackpool, also home to fracking firm Cuadrilla, during Reclaim the Power protests last August. The district judge not only fined him £250 and ordered him to £500 costs and £25 victims’ surcharge, but also ordered him to pay £551.83 compensation to the Chamber, on the flimsy basis that it “had cancel an event the day after the protest” – when the protesters had long since left. More than £1,300 for an office occupation in which nothing was damaged (let alone set on fire, Algerian-style!).

The protest in Blackpool in August 2014
The protest in Blackpool in August 2014

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber Of Commerce, revealed the political motives behind the prosecution and punishment by telling media: “This decision sends out a clear message that if protestors break the law they will be punished. It sets the precedence for our local business community who can now be assured that fracking occupancy is illegal and not welcome in Lancashire”.

And on the same day anti-fracking campaigner and journalist Paul Mobbs was arrested at the entrance to Downing Street in London. He was trying to make a citizen’s arrest of members of the government because he believes they are guilty of misconduct in public office in the way they have dealt with fracking. At about 3pm, Mr Mobbs was asked to leave the Downing Street area. When he refused and said he would try to climb over the gate he was arrested for breaching a traffic management order under the laughably-named Terrorism Act.

Mr Mobbs has updated his frackogram showing links involving the fracking industry. Meanwhile, Drill or Drop has produced an invaluable and comprehensive update on drilling, permissions, companies and consultations across the UK, including of course the Celtique site near Billingshurst, West Sussex, featured in Acorn 2.

Bill-fence3
The fracking site near Billingshurst, West Sussex, featured in Issue 2 of The Acorn

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5. Motor threat to Welsh valleys

Circuit of Wales
The proposed new “infrastructure” for the Welsh countryside

A public enquiry opens on Tuesday March 10 into a hideous assault on common land in the Welsh countryside in the name of “infrastructure”.

The Open Spaces Society explain that two years ago they objected to plans for the Circuit of Wales motor-sports development just north of Ebbw Vale in south Wales. “At that time the developer, the Heads of the Valleys Development Company, stated optimistically and inaccurately on its website that ‘planning permission is the final hurdle’.

“Although the development now has planning permission it has not yet gone ahead—because it would take common land.  There are many who claim that the objectors are holding up a development which will bring jobs and prosperity to the area.  Their ire should be directed at the developers who opted to site the motor circuit on a common.

“For the applicant has had to find land to offer in exchange for the 245 hectares (nearly one square mile) of open moorland which would be submerged under concrete, and to make an application to Welsh ministers for the exchange, under section 16 of the Commons Act 2006.”

The development website boasts: “Circuit of Wales will transform 830 acres of Blaenau Gwent in the scenic Welsh valleys on an unparalleled scale, and will shine the global spotlight on the region. The innovative scheme will wholly regenerate the area, providing unrivalled opportunities in job creation, tourism, and research and development.”

It says the scheme is “the most significant capital investment programme in automotive infrastructure in the UK in the last 50 years”.

Here we have all the assumptions of the capitalist “growth” mindset. It beggars belief that the “transformation” of countryside into a motor racing track can be seen in a positive light! Does the region want the “global spotlight” shone on it? What does it mean to “wholly regenerate” an area? Is “job creation” always a good thing, even if the jobs perform no useful function, and indeed a harmful one?

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6. Acorninfo

Thursday March 12 has been named by land activists as the date of the final eviction efforts at Yorkley Court in the Forest of Dean. As we reported in Acorn 3, for the last two and a half years residents have been trying to establish a sustainable community farm. But on February 26 a local millionaire property developer Brian Bennett won his court case for possession. A call-out has now been made for supporters to come and show their solidarity on the day.

Yorkley-New

* * *

Following the report in Acorn 3, the fascists of the EDL have apparently changed their minds about trying to march through Brighton on April 18. Local rag The Argus says the far-right hate-mongers are now planning to head for Oxford on April 4 instead. Observes the anti-fascist EDL News: “The group have stated the demo in Brighton has been postponed but we suspect it will not get rearranged due to the fact that many of their members have stated that the idea was pretty stupid in the first place.”

brightonantifascists

* * *

A new book of eco-poetry has been published by Permanent Publications. Ecozoa by Helen Moore calls for a new era “in great contrast to the ravages caused by the growth and impacts of industrial civilisation on our planetary ecosystems”. Moore’s work is strongly inspired by William Blake and, reviewing the latest collection, Paul Cudenec comments: “By placing herself in a direct line of ideological descent from Blake, Moore is doing more than expressing admiration for him. She is proclaiming herself as a contemporary manifestation of that same underground heretical tradition”. The full review can be read here.

ecozoa

* * *

An annual celebration of Spring and “the renewal of life on the Downs” is once again been staged by Sussex environmental and land access group the  Worthing Downlanders. They are inviting local musicians, singers, poets and merry-makers to join them on Sunday March 22 2015 from 2pm at The Castle Tavern, 1 Newland Road, Worthing, West Sussex BN11 1JR. “Everyone is welcome to participate, or you can just turn up and watch the festivities with a glass in hand!” Entry is free. Contact: info@worthingdownlanders.org.uk

Castle Tavern Worthing
Castle Tavern, Worthing

 

 

 

 

 

 

* * *

Members of The Invisible Committee, the radical French writing collective behind The Coming Insurrection, will be in the UK on Saturday March 21, for a talk about their new book, A nos amis. The event, hosted by Sussex Anarchists, is at the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton, at 6pm.

anosamis

* * *

Acorn quote: “Progress, what you call progress, this incessant hustle-bustle, this rapid tiring and neurasthenic, short-breathed chase after novelty, after anything new as long as it is new, this progress and the crazy ideas of the practitioners of development associated with it… this progress, this unsteady, restless haste; this inability to remain still and this perpetual desire to be on the move, this so-called progress is a symptom of our abnormal condition, our unculture”. Gustav Landauer, For Socialism.

Gustav Landauer
Gustav Landauer

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The Acorn 3

The Acorn 2

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The Acorn – 3

acornmastheadnew

Number 3


In this issue:

  1. Tear gas and water cannon
  2. What is Elbit scared of?
  3. Reclaiming the fields
  4. Sussex – fracking threat to rural bridge
  5. EDL fascists target Brighton
  6. Acorninfo

1. Tear gas and water cannon

maniftoulouse

manifnantescannon

Tear gas, water cannon and “flashball” rubber bullets have been fired at people protesting against police violence and against the destruction of the countryside brought about by the system the cops brutally defend.

Bank and shop windows were smashed and there were dozens of arrests in two cities on different parts of France on Saturday February 21.

The clashes were the latest episode in a growing wave of resistance in France against totalitarian capitalism and its environmentally-destructive infrastructure.

Two simultaneous protests were staged in Nantes and Toulouse, reflecting the struggle against the proposed new airport for Nantes and outrage at the murder by police of Rémi Fraisse, a student at Toulouse University.

manifs

The young environmentalist was killed by a grenade fired at his back at point-blank range by gendarmes during protests against a proposed new dam at Sivens near Le Testet in the south of France.

The call-out for the resistance in the two cities was “against the concreting of our countryside and the militarisation of our towns”.

The concreting of the countryside threatens to become even worse, with the French state confirming it will be pushing ahead with the airport at Notre-Dame-Des-Landes, protected by the long-established ZAD protest camp.

And, of course, the militarisation of the towns was in evidence at the protests, with the police as usual claiming they had been “forced” to deploy their frightening armoury against dissidents because a bit of paint had been lobbed in their general direction.

The French media reported that the notoriously violent CRS riot cops even attacked journalists with their batons.

manifnantes3

Various video reports can be seen here:

http://rt.com/in-motion/234559-france-airport-protest-clashes/

http://www.francetvinfo.fr/france/les-manifestations-degenerent-a-nantes-et-toulouse_831483.html

http://www.euronews.com/2015/02/22/clashes-erupt-at-anti-police-violence-rallies-in-nantes-and-toulouse/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhCirpVdbL8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCOWqKZpKR4

manifnantes2

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2. What is Elbit scared of?

elbit
The rooftop occupation in Kent in February 2015

Activists successfully shut down an arms company in Kent on Tuesday February 17.

They struck under cover of darkness, at 5am, at the premises of Instro Precision near Broadstairs, to protest against its sales to both Israel and Afghanistan. Four people took the roof with banners to shut the factory down, with ten more on the ground, one of whom locked herself to the front gate. See the video in this successful appeal for financial support.

Instro is owned by Israeli arms company Elbit Systems, which makes drones that are used to kill Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Optical and camera systems like those made at the Instro factory are also supplied by Elbit for use in drones flown over Afghanistan, as well as in Israel’s apartheid wall.

A wide range of groups came together to make the blockade happen, including: Brighton BDS, Brighton Palestine Action, Smash EDO, Stop NATO Cymru, Anarchist Action Network, East Kent CAAT and Swansea Action for Palestine.

The blockade began before dawn
The blockade began before dawn

The occupiers stayed in place for nearly 13 hours and decided to leave after having shut the firm down for the whole working day. Kent Police put out a statement describing the protest as “lawful” and nobody was arrested, let alone charged.

Good news – but why would the authorities, presumably with the tacit backing of the firm affected, decide to take no legal action against people blockading a factory?

The answer can probably be found in the story of a previous factory occupation near Birmingham, in August 2014, when activists closed down another Elbit subsidiary, UAV Engines Limited, for two days at the height of Israel’s summer military assault on Gaza.

After putting the factory out of business for two days, all activists were removed by police, arrested, charged with aggravated trespass and taken to court for preliminary hearings. However, all these charges were suddenly dropped at the end of January this year, a week before the case was due to go to trial.

It seems the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had to pull out at the last minute because company managers mysteriously decided to go back on previous commitments to testify against the nine.

Said a statement from London Palestine Action: “The decision taken by the CPS to drop charges against us shows us that either Elbit Systems were unwilling to testify in court about their activities or because the UK government was unwilling to comply with the court’s order to disclose information it holds about licenses for arms exports to Israel, or both.”

The aftermath of an Israeli drone attack
The aftermath of an Israeli drone attack

*  Corporate Watch have published a briefing called Gaza: Life Beneath the Drones.

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3. Reclaiming the fields

RTFbanner

Reclaim the Fields are holding a day of learning and network-building in Wales on Saturday March 7.

The event at the Red and Black Umbrella at 57-58 Clifton Street, Cardiff, will be built around the topics of growing projects, access to land and food sovereignty.

It starts at 1pm and will be followed in the evening, from 7pm, by a benefit gig in aid of the fight for the Yorkley Court Community Farm in the Forest of Dean, now facing eviction (see Acorninfo).

An article on Reclaim the Fields by Ed Hamer in The Land magazine says: “Taking its name from the road protest collective which swept the UK in the early 1990s, the movement intends to employ the same creative mix of political lobbying, networking and direct action in its objective to get the 21st century peasantry back onto the land.

“Just as the climate change debate has inspired a new generation to push the environment onto the political agenda, those of us who feel particularly passionate about food and farming have the potential to do the same for agriculture.”

On its website, Reclaim the Fields describes itself as a constellation of people and collective projects willing to go back to the land and reassume control over food production.

It adds: “We are determined to create alternatives to capitalism through cooperative, collective, autonomous, real needs-oriented small scale production and initiatives, putting theory into practice and linking local practical action with global political struggles.”

RTF - heathrow

Reclaim the Fields emerged in March 2011 from a small gathering at Grow Heathrow, a land squat set up to resist the expansion of Heathrow Airport.

RTF also supports the policies of Via Campesina, an international movement founded in 1993 by farmers’ organizations from Europe, Latin America, Asia, North America and Africa, which currently has its HQ in Jakarta, Indonesia.

via campesina

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4. Sussex – fracking threat to rural bridge

Boxal Bridge
Boxal Bridge in West Sussex – in the way of fracking

Nothing is to be allowed to stand in the way of the fracking industry and the authorities will do all they can to clear its path.

As we reported in Issue 2 of The Acorn, the new Infrastructure Act is designed to allow corporate interests to trample all over communities and the environment.

One small example of the way the authorities will bend over backwards for the extreme energy business comes from the West Sussex countryside between Wisborough Green and Kirdford.

In July 2014 an application by fracking firm Celtique Energy for oil and gas exploration was refused by West Sussex County Council’s planning committee at a meeting in Horsham.

One of the cited reasons for the refusal was “unsafe” road access for the fracking traffic. Committee chair Heidi Brunsdon admitted: “There were simply too many highways issues and other issues of concern for any decision other than refusal in this instance.”

One of the biggest issues involved Boxal Bridge, a beautiful rural structure dating from the 1850s, which was clearly too narrow to cope with hundreds of fracking lorries.

But where there’s a will there’s a way – and West Sussex County Council has helpfully come up with a plan to get rid of this particular obstacle to the path of ecocidal profiteering.

Two months after refusing Celtique’s plans, it commissioned a “feasibility study” on Boxal Bridge and of the six options recommended it chose number six – to demolish the bridge and build a two-lane crossing suitable for heavy industrial traffic.

This was despite the two local parish councils of Kirdford and Wisborough Green, and many local residents, opposing the demolition.

Once again, here is capitalism showing itself in physical form – as the infrastructure of the cancerous growth known as industrial civilisation.

A petition has been set up to demand that the bridge is not demolished.

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5. EDL fascists target Brighton

Anti-fascists block the racists' route in 2012
Anti-fascists block the racists’ route in 2012

Anti-fascists in Brighton are preparing for action after notorious extreme-right group the EDL announced plans for a march through the Sussex city on Saturday April 18 2015.

It was looking like being a quieter April than usual for Brighton, after the racists of the March for England announced they would be heading to Blackpool instead.

Previous years have seen dramatic scenes on the streets, with police attacking and arresting numerous anti-racist protesters in order to try to clear a way for the dwindling fascist contingent.

In recent years, mobile steel barriers have been used by the authorities to create a sterile area near the seafront where the nazis can parade away from the hostility of the Brighton public.

Anti-fascists protecting Brighton in 2012
Anti-fascists protecting Brighton in 2012

News that the EDL is stepping into the breach left by their friends in the MFE will come as a surprise to many – the EDL usually hangs its protests on the excuse of opposing “islamification” of certain areas.

Rather than merely diverting popular dissatisfaction with the capitalist system against minority scapegoats, the EDL here seems to be fulfilling the other classic fascist function of physically threatening radical opponents of the capitalist system.

Anti-racist website EDL News reports: “Due to the fact that there is not a large Muslim population in Brighton, it is thought that the demo has been called to confront what they see as a left wing city who do not put up with their politics of racism and division.”

To confirm this, it shows a screenshot from a social media conversation between EDL supporters, one of whom declares that “its time the left wing gets whats coming to them”.

With local anti-fascists already spreading the word about their intentions, the EDL may once again find it difficult to turn its belligerent online boasting into reality on the streets.

Outnumbered - the March for England in 2013
Outnumbered – the March for England in 2013

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6. Acorninfo

Land activists at Yorkley Court in the Forest of Dean are this week facing eviction. For the last two and a half years, they have been trying to establish a sustainable community farm, but a local millionaire property developer has other ideas and filed a claim for possession of the land. Said an update posted on the activists’ website on Thursday February 26: “News just received, Judge Harrington has ruled in favour of Brian Bennett for possession of Yorkley Court. We have 24 hours’ notice for the farmhouse, 3 days for the back field and the area surrounding the farmhouse, and 14 days for the bottom strip. Support will be appreciated during this stressful time, materials, bodies, hearts, minds and all. Keep an eye out for updates and ways to help.”

* * *

The theft of a local Sussex beach by a private company has been upheld by the legal authorities. Locals have been trying to stop Newhaven Port and Properties from excluding the public from West Beach, a sandy spot traditionally used and loved by townsfolk. But their latest attempt failed on Wednesday February 24) after the Supreme Court said the area could not after all be registered as a village green, overturning a decision by the Appeal Court in March 2013. NPP has now announced plans to expand its operations into part of Tide Mills beach. Newhaven mayor Judith Ost told local press: “The Supreme Court has today found that the beach has been used by local people for generations by permission of the port authority – and we see no reason why local people cannot continue to do so.” Warned Nicola Hodgson of the Open Spaces Society: “This judgment comes on top of the pernicious change in English law, the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013, which outlaws applications to register greens where land is threatened with development.  With the courts and parliament working against us, the future of our precious open spaces is increasingly perilous.”

Newhaven West Beach
Stolen – Newhaven’s West Beach
How it used to look
How it used to look

* * *

The interface between anarchism and art is explored in Herbert Read: Art and Idealism by Michael Paraskos. Reviewer Paul Cudenec says the book “makes no futile attempt to flatten out Read’s work and life in order to make it fit into some pre-determined category” and encourages readers “to step off the well-trod road of narrow thinking and forge their own path of empowering intellectual discovery”. Full article at https://network23.org/paulcudenec

Read book

* * *

Some basic tips for community campaigning have been set out by local anarchist website The Hereford Heckler,which started life in early 2008, originally as the bimonthly paper of Hereford Solidarity League. The Heckler stresses: “Remember: If you are going to do community organising, do it in your own area; don’t be a missionary!”

Hereford Heckler

* * *

Acorn quote: “Faith in the fundamental goodness of man; humility in the presence of natural laws; reason and mutual aid – these are the qualities that can save us. But they must be unified and vitalized by an insurrectionary passion, a flame in which all virtues are tempered and clarified, and brought to their most effective strength”. Herbert Read, The Philosophy of Anarchism.

NPG P1681; Herbert Read by Rollie McKenna
Herbert Read

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The Acorn – 1

acornmastheadnew

Number 1


In this issue:

  1. Road fight is back on
  2. Battle of Hastings
  3. Rising Up in Bristol
  4. French resistance to concrete future
  5. The end of endless growth
  6. Rewilding journalism
  7. Acorninfo

1. Road fight is back on

A protest walk in 2003
A protest walk in 2003

The fight to save a treasured piece of Sussex countryside is back on – 12 years after a protest camp halted road plans.

Campaigners from groups such as South Coast Against Roadbuilding are calling for support in the fight to save Arundel’s beautiful watermeadows and nearby Binsted Woods and Tortington Common.

With £270 million being made available for a scheme by central government, a nightmare scenario is on the cards, in which a new dual carriageway bypass of the existing Arundel bypass would be built on hideous concrete stilts across the River Arun south of the town.

Details are unlikely to be confirmed until after the General Election, but opponents fear one of the two possible “offline” routes, bypassing the current bypass, could well be chosen. More info can be found here or here.

Both these routes include the viaduct and would ruin the wetlands and surrounding area. As Arundel Bypass Neighbourhood Committee point out: “Option A damages Tortington Common’s ancient woodland; Option B wrecks Binsted’s countryside.”

Behind the revived plans for an Arundel bypass-bypass are the usual business interests and their political placemen in government.

An “A27 Action campaign”, led by West Sussex County Council, has been set up to blow the road-building trumpet.

It barely conceals the truth that private profit is its major motivation, declaring on the home page of its website that the existing non-motorway A27 “is congested route which is inhibiting business investment and growth”.

Residents have been deluged with constant propaganda (officially termed a “publicity campaign”) via compliant local media to try and persuade them that they want to sacrifice their local countryside on the altar of economic growth.

But this has been unable to disguise the fact that there has always been major local opposition to the proposals from local people whose vision of life extends further than a company balance sheet.

The last battle against the A27 at Arundel culminated with a tree protest camp being set up in the woods on the proposed route of the road – see this report in the Indymedia archives.

Arundel protest camp
The protest camp in 2003

And it ended in a spectacular and unexpected victory. In the summer of 2003 it was looking as if the road would be given the go-ahead. Local Tory MP Howard Flight had even sent out a statement to local press welcoming “the Government announcement to proceed with a bypass for Arundel”.

But then, at the last minute, the Government dropped its support for the environmentally destructive scheme. Said one local campaigning newsletter at the time: “Those brave few who took to the woods at Arundel for the sake of the watermeadows and the woodlands deserve the thanks of all of us who value Sussex and want it to remain something other than a vast grey desert of ring roads, superstores and ugly commuter housing estates.”

There had been a flurry of media interest in the Arundel protest camp at Tortington Common, with reports everywhere from BBC TV and Meridian to the Evening Argus, The Times and The Guardian.

And a hint as to the reasons why the Government backed down in West Sussex, while ploughing ahead with road plans elsewhere in the country, came in a report on the Evening Standard website.

Written before the announcement, and seemingly expecting the Arundel road to be given the green light, it added: “The Government will be desperate to avoid clashes with committed activists such as ‘Swampy’ – so-called ‘king of the eco-warriors’. It is still nervous of provoking the kind of confrontations that created ugly scenes at Twyford Down and the Newbury bypass in the late nineties.”

Maybe it is time for the authorities to start feeling nervous again?

South Coast Against Roadbuilding can be contacted via: info@scar-uk.co.uk

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2. Battle of Hastings

The battle continues against the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road in East Sussex.

A few hardy campaigners braved the sub-zero temperatures and the snow last weekend to camp out in Hollington Valley, site of the proposed Queensway Gateway road.

coombe haven
Protesters in Hollington Valley

The valley has a rich variety of habitats, including meadowland, ancient woodland, and carr (woody vegetation on the margin of a bog) – all of which would be trashed by the road.

Asks the Coombe Haven Defenders website: “How many more of our green spaces are going to be destroyed before those making the decisions realise how utterly short-sighted and destructive is their roadbuilding mania?”

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3. Rising Up in Bristol

Eco-activists in Bristol have been camping in trees which are due to be felled to make way for part of the city’s controversial MetroBus scheme.

The Bristol Post reports that people with Rising Up, a campaign group, have been in the trees and occupying the ground between the M32 and the Feed Bristol project at Stapleton Allotments.

Bristol trees
Bristol campaigners

The planned road for the MetroBus North Fringe and Hengrove link route will destroy a conservation area containing wildlife habitat and prime agricultural land. There would also be an inevitable impact on Feed Bristol – an Avon Wildlife Trust community food growing project – that is situated there.

Rising Up spokeswoman Belinda Faulkes said: “We think the development plans and actions taken by the council have been a travesty. This piece of land should not even be an option for any development. We do not buy the planners’ reasons for building here – the reasons are economic.”

For latest info check http://www.alternativebristol.com

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4. French resistance to concrete future

Fighting for the countryside in France
Fighting for the countryside in France

Over in France, the spirit of the UK anti-roads movement has expanded into a full-on resistance movement against capitalism and its infrastructure.

The original ZAD (Zone À Défendre) against a proposed airport at Nantes has been followed by dozens of other protest camps across the country, opposing everything from dams and railway lines to holiday parks and golf courses.

In October 2104 a young student, Rémi Fraisse, was murdered by gendarmes while protesting against a proposed dam at Le Testet, near Albi in the south of France, sparking angry protests all over the country.

This is being followed up on February 21 by two big protests “against the concreting of our countryside and the militarisation of our towns” in Nantes and Toulouse.

In France, there is a significant “décroissance” (degrowth) movement ranging from well-known environmentalists like writer Pierre Rabhi or MEP José Bové to radical groups determined to fight the destructive domination of the capitalist system.

invispostersmall-300x424

The Invisible Committee (le comité invisible), an influential writing collective, has recently described localised battles against infrastructure as the front line in the global struggle against capitalism. Interest in their ideas is already spreading to the UK – they are giving a talk at the Cowley Club in Brighton on Saturday March 21.

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5. The end of endless growth

In a well-researched two-part online article, author Nafeez Ahmed explores the idea that “the economic crisis is symptomatic of a deeper crisis of industrial civilization’s relationship with nature”.

He looks at the groundbreaking work of University of Turin economist Mauro Bonaiuti, who uses the term “degrowth” to describe a new science of post-growth economics: “This perspective recognizes that endless growth on a finite planet is simply biophysically impossible, literally a violation of one of the most elementary laws of physics: conservation of energy, and, relatedly, entropy.”

Adds Ahmed: “This year we could discover that the very disruption of capitalism itself is part of a major tipping point in the transition to a new post-industrial, post-capitalist paradigm.”

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6. Rewilding Journalism

A call for a new kind of journalism has been launched by campaign website Media Lens.

They write: “It seems to us that the public is sick to the back teeth of corporate media pretending to supply the truth and nothing but, while miraculously satisfying the fanatical demands of media moguls, corporate advertisers, parent companies, supportive state news sources and other business allies. What a pitiful lie this is!

“Many readers are aware, on some level, that the profit motive distorts and cheapens every last thing offered by a ‘mainstream’ media system that in fact represents the extreme viewpoint of 0.1% of the population.

“Imagine if George Monbiot, John Pilger, Noam Chomsky, Edward Herman, David Peterson, Jonathan Cook, Mark Curtis, Glenn Greenwald, Nafeez Ahmed, Robert Fisk, Naomi Klein, Russell Brand, Michael Moore, Julian Assange, Chris Hedges, Sharon Beder, Seumas Milne and others rejected the media moguls, billionaires, parent companies and advertisers, and offered their work completely free of charge from a single media outlet. Would the global public be willing to support such a group, such a cause, through donations? The answer, we think, is blindingly obvious.”

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7. Acorninfo

A glimpse into the future being lined up for us by the industrial prison-system – a new Swedish office block is implanting workers with RFID microchips under the skin of their hands. They can use them to open doors or use the photocopier and could soon be used to pay for food at the canteen or to access computers. They are also capable of communicating with smartphone apps.

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Southwark Council backed by police smashed up 8 empty council homes next to a political squat. Part of the emptied Aylesbury Estate in Southwark, South London, has been occupied since the March for Homes in the capital on January 31

Said a statement from the occupiers on February 5: “Around 4.45 PM police and workers attacked one of the buildings we had reclaimed. It was not the main part of the occupation, but the building immediately adjoining. Cops blocked off the walkways while council workers smashed their way into the houses.

“We are tenants, squatters, and other people who care about how our city is being grabbed by the rich, by developers and corrupt politicians, socially cleansed and sold off for profit.”

fightforourcity
Whose city?

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Earth First! Winter Moot will be held from February 20-22 in Bristol. This is a weekend gathering for people involved or wanting to know more about ecological direct action around the UK including fighting opencast coal, fracking, GM, nuclear power, new road building and quarries with discussions and campaign planning – emphasis on the tactics and strategies, community solidarity and sustainable activism.

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The Cardiff Anarchist Bookfair / Ffair Lyfrau Anarchaidd Caerdydda 2015 will be staged on Saturday February 21. More info at https://southwalesanarchists.wordpress.com/

Cardiff

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Anti-fascists are being urged to head for Dudley in the West Midlands on Saturday February 7 to oppose the EDL. Says the Anti-Fascist Network: “The racists of the English Defence League (EDL) are planning to have their national demo on Saturday February the 7th in Dudley. They are treating it very seriously, and anti-fascists need to be just as committed and more organised. In the context of Charlie Hebdo, Islamophobia from the government, the media and the far-right is on the rise. Letting them feel they can have these views and gather in an attempt to intimidate Black, Asian and other minority ethnic populations is not an option.”

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Oi Polloi and Flatpig are among the bands lined up for an anarcho-punk gig at The Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton, on Saturday February 28. Also on the bill are Bug Central, Slug, Refuse/All, and The Disinclined. Entry £8. From 7.30pm.

oi-polloi
Oi Polloi

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